Students' Lesson: It Takes a Community

Fifth graders throughout West Hartford are interacting with the community as they continue work on the 'Where In the Blazes R U?' project.


Students in are learning how important community connections are. The "Blazes" project is underway and firefighters will be visiting all of the elementary schools to thank the students for their support.  

"" is a community action project where students in town are helping the make West Hartford a safer place to live. Fifth Graders are starting to map all of the fire hydrants in town and recruit residents to be Stakeholders (mark hydrants with stakes after heavy snow storms) and Adoptive Parents (families who volunteer to clear hydrants after snowstorms).

If you live near a hydrant and are interested in helping in your community please contact your local school and a student representative will pay you a visit. If you already clear a hydrant near your home please let the school know and students will give you a certificate of thanks.

This project has brought West Hartford students in contact with community members from many areas. Students met at National Cabinetry Millwork where the owner Ray Botass taught them how to prep and treat the 600 mahogany, oak, maple and walnut wood stakes they donated. As a special touch students enjoyed snacks and toured the facility to learn about cabinetmaking.

Listed below are the others who supported this project, and now we need the help of West Hartford residents.

  • Assistant Fire Chief Mike
  • Sinsigalli, Battalion Chief Matt Stewart and Battalion Chief Neil Fisher assisted in fire department support and demonstrations.
  • Officer Courtney Grant provided community police support.
  • Don Carter of Adams and Knight for graphic design support.
  • Teachers in all elementary schools donated extra time to support their students in this venture.
  • Students who became peer mentors to students in neighboring schools.  
  • Foundation for West Hartford Public Schools donated $2000 through The Dowd Family Grant.
  • PTOs in the elementary schools raised money to help fund the project.
  • Karen List, Superintendent of West Hartford Public Schools offered to cover transportation and additional expenses.
  • Anne Marie Speilman, anMDCGIS Analyst supplied large West Hartford maps, and a database of hydrants and sorted 1,500 entries by school districts.
  • Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Anderson provided Tee-Shirt production.
  • Ellen Guest provided meeting coordination and set up at Town Hall.
  • Mayor Scott Slifka came to two town meetings and helped arrange for a at the Town Hall.
  • First Student coordinated the transportation of 50 students from 11 schools to the town hall in 1 hour.
  • representative Cary Anderson supported the schools in the purchasing and instruction on the Gamin GPS units.
  • Denise Jaffee of West Hartford Information Technology helped create a Wiki to manage the data and helped instruct students in using the Wiki.
  • We are counting on community support to make this project successful. Please consider clearing a fire hydrant in your neighborhood. The faster we clear hydrants, the safer our community will be. Contact your local elementary school if you would like to support this amazing venture. Contact Clare Taylor for more information at 860-521-0110 or Clare_Taylor@whps.org. 

    Information in this news release was provided by Clare Taylor and students in her 5th grade class at Duffy Elementary School.


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